Whether winter brings severe storms, light snow or just cold temperatures, it is our responsibility to keep the children in our care safe and warm. The following Winter Safety Tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.
What to Wear
Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Don’t forget warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
For older babies and young children dress them in one more layer of
clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to
cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen and consider using sunglasses.
Hypothermia (when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures)
Hypothermia can occur more quickly in children than in adults. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet.
As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases. If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.
Frostbite (when the skin and outer tissues become frozen) Do not rub the frozen areas! This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. 104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips. Do not rub the frozen area! After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.
Winter Sports and Activities:
Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
Advise your child to:
Skate in the same direction as the crowd
Avoid darting across the ice
Never skate alone
Not chew gum or eat candy while skating
Consider having child wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads, especially while learning to skate Sledding
Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
Snow Skiing and Snowboarding
Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets.
Equipment should fit the child.
Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder.
The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.
Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
Travel at safe speeds.
Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.